Pork Carnitas

I made these over the weekend and figured I’d drop the recipe for my records and for anyone wanting to attempt it themselves. I will say that I usually don’t use measured quantities of things, especially when I’m testing stuff out. I use an enameled cast-iron dutch oven (with a lid) for this recipe, but you could also use a roasting pan.

Pork Carnitas w/Pico de Gallo



  • Boneless / Bone-In Pork Shoulder, 3-4 pounds (depending on how much you want to make)
  • Cumin
  • Chili Powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Olive Oil


  • 2 medium Tomatoes
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1 Jalapeño
  • 2 Limes
  • Cilantro (half bunch)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • OPTIONAL: 2 Garlic scapes


Preheat your oven to 300-325 ℉. Heat 1-2 tbs oil in a dutch oven (large enough to fit your pork) over medium high heat. Brown the pork shoulder on all sides. While the pork is browning, mix together the dry ingredients to make a rub. You can adjust the portions to adjust the flavor. I tend to like a lot of cumin, and usually add something like cayenne for heat as well. Once the pork is browned, turn off the heat and remove the pork to a dish (I use a pie plate). Cover the pork in rub, get it in all the crevices. Place the pork back in the dutch oven, put on the lid and pop it in the oven. Cook for around 3 hours. I usually check on it half way.

While the pork is cooking, you can make your pico. Dice the tomato and onion and place in a bowl. Chop / mince the jalapeño and cilantro and add those. At this point, I used a mandoline on a couple of garlic scapes to add some more flavor. Finally, add salt and pepper, squeeze in limes, stir and refrigerate.

After around 3 hours, your pork should be done. Take it out of the oven and remove the pork shoulder to a plate to use for shredding, but keep the oven on. You can get rid of the drippings if you like, but I usually save them and skim them, so you should too. Roughly shred the pork using two forks. You want to keep it kinda chunky, not super stringy. In a 12″ skillet (I used cast iron), heat a few tbs. of olive oil over medium high heat. Add pork in medium-ish batches and brown it, until it gets crispy outsides / edges. I only used about half my pork (saving some for BBQ!), so only did one pan. While I was browning the pork, I reduced the drippings down to about half a cup. I proceeded to pour this into the browned pork, stirred it around a bit, then put the whole pan (cast-iron, baby!) into the oven to bake off the liquid. This took about 15 mins or so (don’t really remember).

Turn the oven off to keep the pork warm but not cooking. Heat some tortillas, shred some cheese, take your pico out and you’re good to go!

I love slow cooking pork shoulder like this because you can do so much with it. You can eat it just like roast pork, turn it into carnitas or add some BBQ sauce to make pulled pork sandwiches. Good stuff!

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Toby McKes is the Director of Engineering at Red Tricycle , a foodie, lover of music and board-game enthusiast residing in Seattle, WA.

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